Full Control shuts down all production of new games as resources dry up following a long line of unlucky events.
One of the most promising Danish developers, Copenhagen-based Full Control, will not be making any new games. That was the sad news that company CEO, Thomas H. Lund, could announce to the world yesterday.
Despite an impressive track record, and a very positive reception of their latest title, Space Hulk: Ascension, a perfect storm of unlucky incidents has forced the developer to give up all hopes of producing any new games. Most of the original team of 25 people that made up Full Control just a few months back have already been let go, and only a very reduced team still remains to finish up the planned DLC for Space Hulk: Ascension and take care of support.
It was a long chain of events that lead to the decision to shut down the development of new titles. The final straw was when one of the investors, Capnova, forced an exit from the comapny, leaving Full Control with insufficient resources to sustain the burn rate of a full development team. Especially since the publisher behind Full Control’s previous game, Jagged Alliance: Flashback, BitComposer, went bankrupt, taking with them a considerable amount of money and any hopes for further use of the Jagged Alliance IP.
Up until 2014, Full Control had showed good form with several well-received games, a steady growth, and not least the partnership with Games Workshop around the Space Hulk IP from the Warhammer 40.000 universe. But with Jagged Alliance: Flashback not performing as hoped, Full Control already had a kink in their armour, heading into 2015.
Talking to Nordic Game Bits, however, Thomas Lund also points to an much more ferocious competition in the space for mid-sized strategy games. A space that was not nearly as crowded a few years ago, but is now almost overflowing with really good games.
“You have these tools that are getting cheaper and cheaper, and more and more people who split off from the major studios to produce quality games, ” he says. “And these new constellations of super-skilled people are just slowly creating a market thats saturated with these medium-sized games.”
This is making it increasingly difficult to just get out there and sell your game on platforms like Steam. It used to be a guarantee to break even just launching on Steam. But now it’s a battle.
Thomas Lund tells Nordic Game Bits that he sees it as a form of App Store-ification of Steam, where the problems of discoverability, which are haunting App Store publishers now, are beginning to show their ugly face on Steam too.
The other problem with that development is that the increased competition also manifests itself in the competition for investor and publisher money. “That maket is also saturated with people with excellent track records with great commercial products,” Lund says. “And the publishers only have limited bandwith. So the chance of getting funding for some bigger projects is also diminishing all of a sudden.”
So we were getting squashed from both sides, with an increased competition for funding and an increased competition for the game buyer’s money
Full Control had also become vulnerable because they staffed up to work on both Jagged Alliance: Flashback and Space Hulk at the same time. Lund agrees that this was not a part of the original plan for the studio. But after the original Space Hulk became a success, there was a huge demand for DLC, which meant that people couldn’t be shifted over to Jagged Alliance. So instead, Full Control staffed up to two production teams.
“But you also just need to grab the chance when it presents itself,” Lund says. “So I don’t regret it. Actually, I regret very few of the things we did.” According to Lund, they just needed that last bit of luck for the plan to pan out.
We just had a huge amount of momentum when we came out of Space Hulk: Ascension and Jagged Alliance: Flashback. So if we had managed to land a funded project, we could have made a really kick-ass game.
Full Control will not shut down completely though. There’s still a couple of DLC packs for Space Hulk: Ascension in production, and there’s a lot of negotiations going on around porting Space Hulk and Space Hulk: Ascension to various console and mobile platforms.
Thomas Lund will also stay in the Danish games industry, as he has accepted a postion as Lead Producer at the Danish mobile developer SYBO Games. Most of the old Full Control team has also found new employment, but if anyone should need a 3d artist or a level designer, Thomas Lund says that you should get in touch.